HomeSoftware


Who wants to help design an all-new trip planner from the ground up?
Ken in Regina
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpadesFlush
It will also allow you to create a file for any unique route that can be saved and opened 'anywhere' that will recall from the internet (to which you must be connected) that route. That, at least, is a degree of portability.
Two things...

1. In Android at least, if you save that route to a home screen icon it will function just fine offline as long as you have the necessary map data saved offline. I don't have time right now to check links from an email or OneNote page.

2. I misspoke earlier when I said you can't reorder stops when building a route in the Android Maps app. You can. You just have to grab a stop on the letter (A, B, C, etc) in front of it to drag it up or down the list. I was trying to grab the text in the stop to drag it and that doesn't work.

...ken...
GoneNomad
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpadesFlush
It will also allow you to create a file for any unique route that can be saved and opened 'anywhere' that will recall from the internet (to which you must be connected) that route. That, at least, is a degree of portability.
Yep, opening a route planned elsewhere can be opened into the GoogleMaps/Nav app only with the assistance of google play services, which requires an internet connection.

Once in the the GoogleMaps/Nav app, routes can be "saved" locally by using "Add route to Home Screen" (which is probably all the waypoint locations in order and probably some additional routing info so that route recalculation is not required).

Selecting one of those "Home Screen route" shortcuts launches that route directly into GoogleNav (bypassing the map module).

As long as the map data for the pertinent area was already downloaded, this provides PND-type navigation without any internet data connection.

That's a great solution, IF it was possible to:
1. Save (or send) a file compatible with the "Home Screen route" shortcuts directly out of google.com/maps
2. Manage (rename, organize, etc.) those route files, which are as it is now are automatically named by the NAME of the destination (i.e.: every "Home Screen route" shortcut that goes to a WalMart will be named "Walmart")

I don't know what's in those files, because I haven't been able to find them, even using a file manager that shows hidden files, and after deleting all GoogleMaps/Nav cache files before creating ONE new route and saving it with "Add route to Home Screen"

As it is now, a High Frequency Traveler's trip planning workflow quickly results in something like this:
GoneNomad
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken in Regina
Two things...

1. In Android at least, if you save that route to a home screen icon it will function just fine offline as long as you have the necessary map data saved offline. I don't have time right now to check links from an email or OneNote page....ken...
A route URL can be opened into the GoogleMaps/Nav app only with the assistance of google play services, which requires an internet connection.

Now you've got me wondering if it works the same for PLACES as well as routes (I think it does)... but I will check that shortly.

BTW, one thing that might affect the outcome when testing some of this stuff: the GoogleMaps/Nav app caches a bunch of stuff. I routinely clear the app's cache & use new places to avoid having appear to "work" and then be disappointed later during a real-world usage.

Without an internet connection, the GoogleMaps/Nav app has very limited search capability... I think it's street addresses or Lat-Long-Coordinates only ("starred" places have already associated both with a place name). It probably is working solely off of Lat-Long-Coordinates, and translating anything other than a street address to that is something it cannot do by itself.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken in Regina
...I misspoke earlier when I said you can't reorder stops when building a route in the Android Maps app. You can. You just have to grab a stop on the letter (A, B, C, etc) in front of it to drag it up or down the list. I was trying to grab the text in the stop to drag it and that doesn't work.

...ken...
I did the EXACT same thing!

That's another one of those things that doesn't quite work the same as on google.com/maps
There are several other inconsistencies within the GoogleMap/Nav app too, including the way searching for a place works when it's an intermediary stop vs. the start or end.

Tip: IN the GoogleMap/Nav app it's easier to find POIs as intermediary stops. Maybe it's better because they added this capability more recently?
So a workaround to be able to use this is to pick any saved place as the end, then add as many intermediary stops as needed, including the one that will be the end of the route (after using the easier method of finding it), then delete the original "placeholder" endpoint.
GoneNomad
MapQuest POI presentation is the best, compared to Google, Bing or Here.



Mapquest has more pertinent info in a map view than any other except google's maps when zoomed in farther. But even google does not show gas prices in this view.

Unfortunately, the MapQuest APP does not show labled icons; instead it shows small color coded dots.
And it appears that unlike google, a navigation cannot be directly launched on a mobile device from MapQuest.com on that same device.

Mapquest's POIs better POI icons are still lacking three things though:
1. Logos
2. User-selectable size adjustment
3. Automatic spacing deconfliction (to avoid the overlap you see in the screencap above). Then again they all have that problem,, so I guess none of these developers ever saw the green signs that precede interstate highway exits

Also, Mapquest's POI data is not nearly as good as google.
(no surprise there I guess)

There are lots of tolerable inaccuracies. These make me think Mapquest's slogan should be:

"Travelers prefer Mapquest when close is good enough and they don't mind surprises"


But there are also too many omissions, duplications, and mis-classifications, as well too many ghosts of POIs-past (same problem that results in duplication when a store moves instead of closes for good).
Attached Images
mapquest-poi-example.jpg  
GoneNomad
Here's one of the things I want to accomplish: linked views with different zoom levels.

I whipped up this simulation based on google.com/maps, envisioning it added on to the toolbar to the left of the "Street View" man, and working analogous to the way Street View works, and for now, I'm calling it "Zoom View"



The top & bottom views would be linked. The red rectangle in the bottom (overview) map shows the area covered by the top (zoomed in) map view.

Moving the top (zoomed in) view would automatically move the red rectangle in the bottom (overview) map.

Moving the rectangle in the bottom (overview) map would move the top (zoomed in) view.

The "+" & "-" buttons would control the zoom levels independently.

Naturally, on a location-enabled device, the current location would be shown on the bottom (overview) map.

I think one of google's map APIs makes it possible to do this. I'm trying to verify that now.


Aside from the obvious thing a split-zoom-view does, which is to help you relate the highly zoomed in view to the overview map, it also bypasses the problem with searching for POIs.*

Since the Split view window above was reduced to less than actual size when I uploaded it to LaptopGPS World, here's a similar section (same zoom level) as the top split-zoom-view in at actual size:


and here is the original full split view image (click to zoom to 100%):
http://i.imgur.com/c6FpyO8.png

This split-zoom setup would give travelers in unfamiliar areas the ability to know where they are in their route, and what's nearby, at a glance ("at a glance" is what has to happen nearly always, otherwise the capability will not be useful)

------------

* Even google's searches for various POI categories inevitably OMIT POIs that are right there, on the map, but you can't see them until you zoom in so far that then you can't tell where you are, when in a totally unfamiliar area.

Here are two examples of a similar area, although it's zoomed in one step further than overview map above. The first problem is that google (like Mapquest) tends to give you either fast food OR other restaurants, but it's not so easy to see both at once (like you can on a highly zoomed in map without searching)

While I do have to give google credit for (finally) making SOME of the POIs display on the map as sizable icons with labels, a lot of the POIs meeting the search criteria are represented only as small red dots, which are unrecognizable at a glance (which is what HFTs need).






---------------------


(BTW, in case anyone didn't realize it, google FINALLY brought back the ability to view a large road map at the bottom and navigate the Street View in the upper window by moving the "Street View" man around on the map, something that was gone from the 2014 release of the "new" google maps.)
Attached Images
google-maps-zoom-window-view.jpg   google-maps-existing-poi-search-1.png   google-maps-existing-poi-search-2.png   google-maps-zoom-window-only.png  
GoneNomad
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpadesFlush
Yes, that is a good summary of the hole in the market. I would add that we need the ability to create coherent multi-stop itineraries that incorporate linking capabilities to on-line and off-line resources with the ability to edit, save, recall, preview, and optimize the route.
Yep, very much so.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SpadesFlush
I do not understand Google Maps' primitive eight-stop limitation. Is it simply a matter of breaking through that? In other words, if Google removes that cap, are we good? If so, it would be unwise to devote any significant time to a work-around.
Oh, I already have a LOOOOT more in mind... and I'm sure more will become apparent if development actually gets underway. Chaos is a bitch & Necessity is the mother of invention (and both their stripper names are Karma)

Just as an example, imaging an online trip planner that produces an end result somewhat similar to the AAA "TripTik". Only this end product would not be a folio filled with print outs. I just noticed that there are AAA mobile apps that fill this need to an extent, so I will have to check them out to see how limiting they are.
http://www.autoclubmo.aaa.com/home/automotive/driving-resources/mobile-and-gps-solutions.html
Considering the source, it most likely lacks the flexibility and comprehensiveness of what I have in mind.

It might be a OneNote workbook filled with all the necessary information that users would otherwise have to find on the net and save, bit by bit, manually, That's WAY TOO MUCH trouble, and they would almost never be able to get as much as an automated system, which could do searches based on customizable user-entered criteria (among other things) and basically "mine" or "harvest" google's map & POI data and save it LOCALLY (as text & images, etc.) so it can be easily used anywhere, without a data connection. And the beauty of a semi-open system like this is, users can EASILY add their own notes to the automatically gathered trip plan "workbook" just as they might write notes on AAA TripTik printouts


But for any of this to work optimally there should be a way to get GeoCoordinates in a local-stored file into the GoogleMap/nav app. Otherwise users would be have to have a data connection every time they go from this system into the GoogleMap/nav app. Not having that is workable, but only because the GoogleMap/nav app does have a rudimentary capability to save routes locally. And even without having done that, it would still be workable, since widespread 4GLTE & Wi-Fi service fills that gap somewhat.

GeoCoordinates (or valid addresses) can be manually entered into the GoogleMap/nav app, which will then plan & route and navigate it. The HAS to be a fairly easy way to automatically to get them there from locally stored files without having type them in or copy&paste from a text file.


Quote:
Originally Posted by SpadesFlush
If Google Maps had pushpins a la S&T/AR where links could be imbedded, would our problems be solved?
It would help but more than just links are needed. The pushpins would need to be customizable. Google's "My Maps" does have more of the functions needed... Too bad they don't want to make it easy to use "My Maps" places/routes for navigation. The closest you can get that way is one point at a time, like any other URL.


Quote:
Originally Posted by SpadesFlush
Does Google have a feedback channel the way MSFT did?
Probably doesn't matter since both google and Microsoft are too big to listen. And google (especially) is most likely more influenced by the large and growing belief system (almost a religion) in the tech industry that the facts, truth, reality (whatever the most appropriate term would be depending on the circumstance) is best and most accurately determined by... a popularity contest.
GoneNomad
Here are a few links that are probably worth checking out:

Trucker Path
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.sixdays.truckerpath
iExit Guide
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.metrocket.iexitapp
AroundMe
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.tweakersoft.aroundme
Around Me Explorer
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.ninolabs.eam

All of these have been updated this month, so they appear to still be ongoing projects (unlike some others on googleplay)

And this mapping/nav app may deserve a look too
(but I've tested many like this that end up doing poorly compared to the likes of google)
GoneNomad
OK, I've been running some tests on the GoogleMap/nav app with data off, and an generously sized 'offline map area' saved locally.

Without an internet connection:
1. GoogleMap/nav app will NOT find a single place if you click on the URL
(we already knew that didn't work for routes, but it doesn't work for places either).
2. GoogleMap/nav app will NOT find a single place if you copy&paste (or type in) the Lat.&Long. coordinates.
In fact, in both cases, after a delay, a message appears (see screen caps).

What the GoogleMap/nav app WILL do without an internet connection, is look up place names and addresses. In fact, if there aren't too many of a given place in the 'offline map' area it finds all of them pretty fast, too. Places that have many in the area take longer but in less than a minute you do get a list from which any can be added to the route. Unfortunately you have to choose one before you can see it on a map. You can also chose named places that appear on the map when zoomed in, or "starred" places saved in the account (data connection required to update)

All of this is pretty encouraging. What's lacking is the ability to organize the "starred" places or 'route shortcuts' added to the home Screen

But it means that as long as the map area is saved locally, the GoogleMap/nav app will provide the navigation functionality of a basic PND, but with (generally speaking) more accurate map data and many more options to do other things a PND won't do. One drawback is that there's a limit to the offline map area size, they have to be a fixed rectangular shape, and there's a limit to the number of offline map areas that be saved (though I don't know what that is). On a longer route, the GoogleMap/nav app will prompt you to save THAT route area offline (OK as long as you have a data connection at that point).

--------------

OK, for the next test I added another map area on the other side of the state (Kansas City),
leaving out the gap in between Kansas City and the "Home" area (St Louis).
I would have to save two of the largest possible offline map areas in order to cover that gap.

With data turned off, I searched for a place name (Ikea) in Kansas City, and it found it quickly.

When I tried a route to Ikea, Kansas City with Wi-Fi off I got an error message.

So I turned Wi-Fi on, and it created the route, which I then saved locally using the "Add route to Home Screen"

Then, with Wi-Fi OFF, I tapped on that route shortcut,
which launched directly into the GoogleNav module...
where after having to watching one of these:

go round&round for a while, I got THIS error message:



In the past when routes go outside the saved "offline map areas" I've noticed this message would pop up:

...but in this case I did not see that.

I subsequently tried different methods of creating (or loading) routes, with no 'offline map' saved at all, or with the starting area map saved but not the destination area.

I tried destinations that were well within the maximum possible 'offline map' area (in case the message above would appear only if the destination was not outside the maximum 'offline map' area), and I tried destinations much farther away too. I tried clearing the app's cache and its data too.

All I know for sure is, most of the time I did NOT see the 'download offline directions' message above when I created a route or started navigation, or even if I chose "Add route to Home Screen"

Once a route navigation is started, it might continue to provide guidance without a data connection, but it sure will not start without one unless the map area has been saved... but that isn't feasible for long trips, and it's also VERY easy to overlook the need to save the map area, since GoogleMaps/Nav doesn't always warn that the route exceeds any previously saved 'offline map' areas.

So it appears that there may be a glitch in google's scheme for ensuring that map areas along a route are stored locally to avoid navigation problems when the data connection is lost.

It appears that users may not be prompted to save the entire route map area if the start area and destination area are saved already, but that's not the only way this happens.

Manually saving the map area needed for the route may not be possible because of restrictions on the shape and size and quantity of 'offline map' areas that can be stored locally.

Whooooops! The net result is: unreliability without a reliable data connection.

Bottom Line: I think the only reliable way to route for long distance travel is with a conventional scheme that saves areas state-by-state.

Google's 'offline maps' scheme appears to be (once again) too limited to be really useful for more than short trips that begin now. A "real" long-distance navigation system needs to save maps locally, state-by-state, or region by region. Trying to pick and chose a few areas doesn't cut it, especially when THIS is all you have to go by to determine exactly what a view of the 'offline map' area has been saved:


It might well turn out that the most usable setup is something like Furkot for long trip planning, CoPilot on a large tablet for long distance navigation, with GoogleMaps/Nav being the most useful for finding nearby POIs and navigating the short detours to them from the main trip.

OTOH, GoogleMaps/Nav works pretty well, even with no data connection, for trips that stay within boundaries the maximum possible 'offline map' area.

"GoogleMaps. Don't leave home without it. But don't plan on driving toooo far without a wireless data connection either."

.....
Attached Images
cant-connect-maps.png   googlemaps-offline-map-area-too-small-.png  
Attached Images
 
GoneNomad
I ran across this article
which led to this site:
Maps-to-GPX

Looked very promising...

right up until the first google.com/maps route URL I tried produced this message:
Status was not OK from Google Directions API, was 'ZERO_RESULTS'. Please ensure that you've enabled the Google Maps Directions API and that you're using a Server API key.
instead of a .gpx file.

Turns out it will only do an "A to B route (between two places, support for more destinations is pending)."

It will convert via (no-stop) points inserted by dragging the route in google.com/maps, but the more "simplified" interface of the "new" version of google.com/maps does not easily/reliably allow changing/deleting via points (because you're as likely to get of view of what's at the point instead of being able to change it), and via points only appear as tiny dots on the map, not in the list (at left) either.
SpadesFlush
@GoneNomad
Quote:
Originally Posted by GoneNomad
...

Probably doesn't matter since both google and Microsoft are too big to listen. ...
Well, I thought there was a certain amount of listening from MSFT when we were suggesting changes to S&T back in the day.

@Ken - I have been trying to come up the curve on OneNote and I can see how you find it useful but, so far, I do not find that it adds enough to the way I work to make it a part of my on-computer life. No "AH-HA" moment for me yet.

I have not been a big user of offline google maps. I don't really understand the functionality. I suppose the offline capability is useful as way to keep navigating without engaging mobile service data, either to avoid data charges or coverage gaps. I see that biggish files are stored on my mobile and I see that they expire unless further action is taken. Other than that, I do not have much control over them. On the one hand, storage on my mobile phone is limited but, on the other, I don't want something that I saved just disappearing willy-nilly. I cannot move one of these files to my phone's SD card (where I have much more capacity) and I cannot have very many files due to capacity constraints. Somehow, I just do not see it as a material part of the HFT navigational solution.
Ken in Regina
@GoneNomad

Quote:
All I know for sure is, most of the time I did NOT see the 'download offline directions' message above when I created a route or started navigation, or even if I chose "Add route to Home Screen"
I've only ever seen that message once. I saw your comment about it a day or so ago so I did some testing yesterday. Sounds like I did the same testing you did. With the same results. I could not find a way to reproduce it.

Quote:
Google's 'offline maps' scheme appears to be (once again) too limited to be really useful for more than short trips that begin now.
I didn't find this to be the case. One of my test routes goes from Regina, SK, to Squamish, BC. I used 5 stops to force it to take secondary highways to simulate a motorcycle trip. The resulting route is nearly 1900 kilometers.

It took three maximum size saved areas to be able to do the navigation offline, but saving those three areas was really fairly simple. It would have been even easier if I had used 4 areas with wider overlaps but I wanted to see if I could do it in 3.

I do agree with both you and SpadesFlush that saving by political region (state, country), like Windows Maps app does, is much better. It would also be nice if you didn't have to worry about expiry of the saved areass.

...ken...
Ken in Regina
@SpadesFlush,

I understand about OneNote. I actually began this many many years ago with the Palm Memopad on my Palm IIIC, then Palm TX, then Garmin iQue 3600, and Palm Centro. Back in those days it was text only but for my purposes that would still be sufficient even today.

Back in the Memopad days I had to copy/paste links into the browser rather than simply click the link in the Memopad. Although I could sync between desktop and multiple devices I had to manage the syncing manually. But none of that reduced the usefulness. In fact back in those days the ability to sync at all between the desktop and multiple mobile devices made it a powerful tool.

Moving to Onenote was, for me, a natural move once Palm was irrevocably dead. In fact I must have tried at least three other products, including SimpleNote and Evernote, before MS released OneNote. Having live web links and grapics has been a nice enhancement.

I don't know if I've mentioned that my primary use of Memopad, then, and OneNote, now, has never been for travel planning. Travel planning has been an incidental addition to my use. It began quite simply by deciding to store our motel/hotel reservations including address/phone, dates, and confirmation numbers for an upcoming trip. This was followed by the realization during the trip that it would be useful to add our reactions about the quality of the stay for future reference. It just grew organically from there.

I now have nearly 20 years of useful travel information in it as well as trip plans going back 10 years. But it's still only a secondary use.

...ken...
GoneNomad
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpadesFlush
@SpadesFlush ...I have not been a big user of offline google maps. I don't really understand the functionality. I suppose the offline capability is useful as way to keep navigating without engaging mobile service data, either to avoid data charges or coverage gaps. I see that biggish files are stored on my mobile and I see that they expire unless further action is taken. Other than that, I do not have much control over them. On the one hand, storage on my mobile phone is limited but, on the other, I don't want something that I saved just disappearing willy-nilly. I cannot move one of these files to my phone's SD card (where I have much more capacity) and I cannot have very many files due to capacity constraints. Somehow, I just do not see it as a material part of the HFT navigational solution.
Google's 'offline map areas' are supposed to update automatically every 30 days via Wi-Fi.
They expire if the device can't connect to Wi-Fi when the update needs to happen. I'm not sure how much (if any) leeway there is on that, i.e.: if no Wi-Fi (or the device is powered off) at 30.0000 days, are they deleted? I would assume it would try o update the next chance it gets after 30 days but that's just a guess.

IMO, the bigger problem HFTs would more likely encounter with google's scheme is, not having the map area needed to start (or complete) a navigation. I've had people tell me that many times, there phone-based nav worked fine right up until they needed it, when they got out in the boonies, where there was no data connection, and the turn-by-turn stopped just when they actually needed them, prior to which, they already knew - or could easily determine - the correct route.

In other words, maps dependent on mobile data (even to START a new trip) are no good because the mobile data stops in the areas where directions are most needed.
GoneNomad
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken in Regina
@ Ken ...It took three maximum size saved areas to be able to do the navigation offline, but saving those three areas was really fairly simple. It would have been even easier if I had used 4 areas with wider overlaps but I wanted to see if I could do it in 3...ken...
Well, there's a total file size limit too (not sure what it is), which means that in more urban areas than the trip you planned, the map area size will be more limited.

It's a cart & horse order dilemma for most users. The scheme expects users to KNOW ahead of time they need to do this, then check whether or not they've saved all the 'offline map' areas needed (based on looking at not-easy-to-see small images of the areas saved), and clearly has some bugs that will trip up users who both know & do what they (thought they) needed to do... For example, a traveler might download the maps for the cities they are traveling to, then plan trips between them, only to find the guidance stops when they leave those metro areas. Fortunately in the US at least the main roads are well marked, but the point is this scheme is "fragile" and there are too many ways it can fail.

IMO, it exists only because google is staffed by too many city slickers who really can't imagine that being without unlimited 4GLTE is anything but extremely rare, and because google is very tight-fisted about its map data (which IMO is similar to why they build interfaces that require users to search instead of using bookmarks, because the latter takes google out of the loop to an extent)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken in Regina
@ Ken...I do agree with both you and SpadesFlush that saving by political region (state, country), like Windows Maps app does, is much better. It would also be nice if you didn't have to worry about expiry of the saved areas. ...ken...
I don't have as much of a problem with the auto-expiry, as long as users are prompted to update/replace them when they expire. That probably doesn't happen though, at least in some circumstances.
GoneNomad
re:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken in Regina
@ Ken ...I've only ever seen that message once. I saw your comment about it a day or so ago so I did some testing yesterday. Sounds like I did the same testing you did. With the same results. I could not find a way to reproduce it...ken...
Looks like GoogleMapsNav app only displays that message once, the first time a route is planned using a new user account.

There are a couple of other similar messages displayed the first time GoogleMapsNav starts up after clearing both GoogleMapsNav cache & data (settings>Apps>Maps).

The reason for my keen interest was I THOUGHT that maybe clicking on THAT message caused an 'offline map area' for the entire route to be saved, perhaps bypassing the fixed rectangle shape of the user-selected area.

But now it looks like google is just reminding new users of how it works... once.
So Google expects users to remember to save 'offline map areas' without providing a good way to manage them, other than remembering to check the tiny thumbnails that on a phone look about this big:


You get a much, much larger view of the offline area when you are asked to "Download this area?"
than you can afterwards, when you can update or delete it. I guess the workaround is to delete and re-download.

But the other problem is, if you're need a larger area than any one 'offline map area' can cover, you can't see the boundaries of the areas you've already downloaded when you go to download a new area. You have to review existing areas by LOOKING at images like the one shown above, one by one, and then try to remember where those boundaries are to size the new 'offline map area.' Then, after you go through all that, if not updated within 30 days they evidently will just disappear... probably without notice, yet the user will instinctively still be depending on the the Maps to work like they did the last time. ...and WHOOPS, they won't.

That's just nuts!

It's a scheme that requires too much user effort for no good reason (maybe a google reason though).

It again shows that google maps is excellent for short trips across town that begin now. But for longer, more complex trips, the type that NEEDS the most planning, it's not so great. ...and it's more evidence of unsuitability for long distance travelers who need mapping/nav tools that WORK as hard as they do!

..
laptopgpsworld.com About